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Curr Gene Ther. 2009 Oct;9(5):409-21.

Gene therapy for brain cancer: combination therapies provide enhanced efficacy and safety.

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  • 1Gene Therapeutics Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California-Los Angeles, 8700 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common primary brain cancer in adults. Despite significant advances in treatment and intensive research, the prognosis for patients with GBM remains poor. Therapeutic challenges for GBM include its invasive nature, the proximity of the tumor to vital brain structures often preventing total resection, and the resistance of recurrent GBM to conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Gene therapy has been proposed as a useful adjuvant for GBM, to be used in conjunction with current treatment. Work from our laboratory has shown that combination of conditional cytotoxic with immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of GBM elicits regression of large intracranial tumor masses and anti-tumor immunological memory in syngeneic rodent models of GBM. In this review we examined the currently available animal models for GBM, including rodent transplantable models, endogenous rodent tumor models and spontaneous GBM in dogs. We discuss non-invasive surrogate end points to assess tumor progression and therapeutic efficacy, such as behavioral tests and circulating biomarkers. Growing preclinical and clinical data contradict the old dogma that cytotoxic anti-cancer therapy would lead to an immune-suppression that would impair the ability of the immune system to mount an anti-tumor response. The implications of the findings reviewed indicate that combination of cytotoxic therapy with immunotherapy will lead to synergistic antitumor efficacy with reduced neurotoxicity and supports the clinical implementation of combined cytotoxic-immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of patients with GBM.

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